Georgia is asovereign state in the Caucasus region of Eurasia. Situated at the juncture of Eastern Europe and Western Asia, it is bounded to the west by the Black Sea, to the north by Russia, to the south by Turkey and Armenia, and to the east by Azerbaijan. Georgia covers a territory of 69,700 km² and its population is more than 4.6 million.
The history of Georgia can be traced back to the ancient kingdoms of Colchis and Iberia, and it was one of the first countries to adopt Christianity, in the 4th century. Georgia reached the peak of its political and economic strength during the reign of King David and Queen Tamar in 11th and 12th century. At the beginning of the 19th century, Georgia was annexed by the Russian Empire. After a brief period of independence following the Russian Revolution of 1917, Georgia was annexed by Russian red army in 1921 and in 1922 Georgia was incorporated into the Soviet Union.
The independence of Georgia was restored in 1991. Like many post-communist countries, Georgia suffered from the economic crisis and civil unrest during the 1990s. After the Rose Revolution, the new political leadership introduced democratic reforms but the foreign investment and economic growth which followed initially have slackened substantially since.
Georgia’s constitution is that of a representative democracy (though Freedom House has stated that the country is “not an elective democracy” — a claim disputed by the Georgian authorities), organized as a unitary, semi-presidential republic. It is currently a member of the United Nations, the Council of Europe, the World Trade Organization, the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the Community of Democratic Choice, the GUAM Organization for Democracy and Economic Development, and the Asian Development Bank. The country aspires to join NATO and the European Union. As an OSCE participating State, Georgia’s international commitments are subject to monitoring under the mandate of the U.S. Helsinki Commission.
In August 2008, Georgia engaged in an armed conflict with Russia and separatist groups from South Ossetia. In the aftermath of the war, Russia recognized South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent states, but at present only Nauru, Nicaragua, the de facto independent republic of Transnistria, and Venezuela have followed suit. On August 28, 2008, the Parliament of Georgia passed a resolution declaring Abkhazia and South Ossetia “Russian-occupied territories.”
Georgian culture evolved over thousands of years with its foundations in Iberian and Colchian civilizations, continuing into the rise of the unified Georgian Kingdom under the single monarchy of the Bagrationi. Georgian culture enjoyed a golden age and renaissance of classical literature, arts, philosophy, architecture and science in the 11th century.
The Georgian language, and the Classical Georgian literature of the poet Shota Rustaveli, were revived in the 19th century after a long period of turmoil, laying the foundations of the romantics and novelists of the modern era such as Grigol Orbeliani, Nikoloz Baratashvili, Ilia Chavchavadze, Akaki Tsereteli, Vazha Pshavela, and many others. Georgian culture was influenced by Classical Greece, the Roman Empire and the Byzantine Empire, and later by the Russian Empire which contributed to the European elements of Georgian culture.
Agriculture is an important occupation in Georgia, whose warmer districts produce large quantities of citrus fruits and tea; wine grapes, hazelnuts, tobacco, rice, and mulberry trees (for silk) are also grown. Sheep, pigs, and poultry are raised. Georgia is rich in minerals, notably manganese (mined mostly at Chiatura and in Imeritia) and copper; iron ore, coal, tungsten, barites, molybdenum, oil, and peat are also found. There are sizable deposits of marble, dolomite, talc, and clays for use in construction.